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Profiling the ‘Fit for the Future’ utility and identifying top-performer behaviors

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Today’s utilities are under constant pressure to improve performance. This often requires them to look outside their own organizations for an understanding of best practice in asset management.

While analyzing best practice can provide helpful insights, implementing it is often made difficult by state regulation, environmental considerations, labor factors, geography, and weather.

Instead, utilities seeking to improve the way they manage their assets should focus on the behaviors that define a top performer. Adopting a behavior-based approach significantly enhances the chances of successful performance improvement.

Having spent over 20 years collecting performance information about utility operations through our Polaris benchmarking program, PA Consulting Group has developed a range of ‘top-performer profiles’ that provides guidance on how utilities can improve performance. These profiles correspond to key components of the asset-management process.

Asset life cycle strategy

Utilities that excel in asset managing from cradle to grave:

  • aggressively pursue new technologies based on a quantifiable cost/benefit analysis and an assessment of their impact on system reliability
  • use real-time, condition-based diagnostic strategies coupled with historic operating performance to optimize maintenance practices and asset replacement strategies
  • are rigorous in capturing data across their maintenance strategy, keep that data up to date and use it to inform decisions about assets
  • base decisions on asset repair, replacement, upgrade, retirement and reliability performance data and quantifiable cost/benefit criteria including risk identification and mitigation
  • focus on achieving an optimal balance between asset utilization, losses, and capacity in looking at long-term system operating and performance objectives.


Investment management

Utilities that excel in making smart financial and risk-based decisions on capital and operations and maintenance (O&M) spending:

  • have a formal and documented business case process in place to justify all potential capital and O&M projects in terms of cost, benefit, risk, and resources
  • include ongoing O&M expenses with new capital investments to evaluate total life-cycle costs
  • quantify benefits of investment in terms of financial and non-financial risk
  • have a dynamic process in place to evaluate adherence to budget and have the ability to alter spending scenarios based on changing business conditions.



Utilities that excel in managing outage frequency and duration and emergency outage restoration:

  • have a culture, mandated by senior management that clearly articulates the focus on reliability and supports it through a proactive reward system
  • focus on discrete opportunities (by feeder, substation, geography and/or asset group) to improve their System Average Interruption Frequency Indicator (SAIFI) and Customer Average Interruption Duration Index (CAIDI) rating
  • have data owners (individuals) in place who are responsible for the accuracy, timeliness and completeness of outage data
  • adopt a clear mandate to restore first and fix later (make safe, isolate, restore and repair)
  • make rigorous use of outage management system (OMS) data, analyzing outages by root cause and sustained impact by time, cause and geography to
  • understand outage profiles and staffing requirements.


Using this profiling technique allows companies that want to improve performance to focus on changing the way they do business from a people, culture and process perspective with a significantly better chance of success.

To find out how to improve performance and create a top performing utility, please contact us now.

Contact the energy and utilities team

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